- Theories about the bizarre goat department in Apple TV+ series Severance have sparked discussion and speculation among fans, with possible explanations including test subjects for memory severing experiments and symbolism of animal sacrifice.
- Another theory suggests that Lumon, the character with a bioengineering background, is experimenting with goat cloning as a step towards human cloning, which ties in with the show’s theme of severed memories and identity.
- A more outlandish theory proposes that the “severance chips” in the show manipulate perception to make humans see cloned children as goats, drawing inspiration from the concept of reality augmentation in Black Mirror’s “Men Against Fire.” However, this theory faces criticism for its impracticality and inconsistencies.
The Apple TV+ series Severance has quickly garnered attention for its intricate plot and the mystery that has spurred numerous fan theories, including some clever ones about the bizarre goat department. While wandering around and mapping out the departments, Mark and Helly are drawn to the bleating of a baby goat, which leads them to a darkened hall and then to a brightly lit room containing several goats. In the center of the room, a stressed man in a business suit and a butcher’s apron is seen bottle-feeding a kid on a miniature white barn and grain silo replica. To the right, there’s a fenced area with hay and feeding tubes with white liquid hanging from the ceiling. The man urgently tells them the goats aren’t ready and demands they leave.
It was this moment in episode 5, “The Grim Barbarity of Optics and Design”, involving the goat that has since sparked much discussion among audiences. In particular, the man’s lack of curiosity about Mark and Helly’s presence adds to the scene’s oddity. Even the creators of the show had no initial explanation for this scene prior to adding it, but producer Dan Erickson has confirmed that the goats will be explained in Severance season 2. In the meantime, fans across the internet have been crafting and sharing their own compelling theories about its significance and possible implications, and they are just too good to gloss over.
An element that might have some significance is the barely visible mural on the wall behind the goat wrangler, which can only be discerned clearly when enhanced through Photoshop.
4 Severance Chip Experimentation
Analyzing the theory of goats as test subjects for the Severance procedure.
In the Severance pilot script, the purpose of the baby goats room was to use them as test subjects for experiments involving memory severing and consciousness manipulation, so this theory might just be the closest to the truth. The microdata refinement (MDR) files that our protagonists work on could be the chips in each goat. Perhaps the chips are removed after refinement, which explains the goat wrangler’s apron, and why he shouts that they aren’t ready to Helly and Mark as they stand bewildered by the door. Additionally, the theory suggests that the goats could symbolize animal sacrifice, a common trope in cults and religions, aligning with Lumon’s cult-like operations.
3 The Cloning Hypothesis
Exploring the idea of cloning experiments and their potential impact on the storyline.
Given Lumon’s bioengineering background, and the fact that goats have been successfully cloned in reality, this theory implies that Lumon is experimenting with goat cloning as a step towards human cloning. In conjunction with severance technology, cloned humans could be raised as ideal workers, soldiers, or servants (like Ms Casey). This ties in with Helly asking if she is “livestock” and “grown as food” when she wakes up with no memory in the first episode.
While the idea seems feasible, it faces criticism for its impractical setup. The room shown is not suitable for rearing goats or any farm animals, lacking proper facilities and environment. Furthermore, the clones would age normally rather than being created as fully-grown adults — though this might explain the “some people might live here” note seen on Petey’s map.
2 Reality Distortion
Considering the concept of perception manipulation and its science-fiction influences
This theory is fairly outlandish, but interesting to consider nonetheless. It suggests that the “severance chips” in a show can manipulate how people perceive reality — a concept taken from Black Mirror episode “Men Against Fire” in which soldiers see their enemies as monsters, not humans, due to reality augmentation. The theory posits that the goats are actually children (for cloning purposes), and that Lumon is using perception distortion through the chips to make the staff see them as goats to prevent emotional responses from the staff. However, this idea is far-fetched as children behave noticeably differently from goats, and something would obviously be off, even through reality distortion.
1 The Great God Pan Connection
Striking parallels between Severance and the Greek god of chaos and fertility.
While this theory doesn’t explore the purpose of the goat department, it offers a fascinating exploration of the parallels between the show and Arthur Machen’s novel The Great God Pan. In Greek mythology, Pan is a god who has a goat’s head with a human body. Goats seem to be recurring throughout Severance — aside from the goat department, there is a goat-man in the Optics and Design painting Burt shows Irving, and the goat mask during the waffle party (a scene that in itself is comparable to Pan and his nymphs).
Some other notable connections between Severance and The Great God Pan
The novel begins with a brain surgery that allows a woman to see another world, similar to how characters in “Severance” experience a split between their work and personal lives.
Pan is god of chaos and fertility, and there seem to be numerous connections between reproduction and pregnancy in the show — think of Devon (Mark’s sister), who is pregnant, and the severed woman whom she meets at the birthing retreat.
Pan’s daughter, Helen, could be a direct parallel to Helly/Helena — Helen causes chaos by inducing a frenzy of suicidal thoughts that lead to people taking their lives using a cord. In a twist of fate, Helen ends up confined in a room with just a cord, echoing Helly’s attempt at suicide using the same method.
The beauty of Severance lies not only in its narrative and visual craftsmanship but also in its ability to engage audiences in a shared experience of discovery and interpretation. The theories surrounding the goat department are as varied and imaginative as the show itself, each adding a layer of depth to the understanding of this unique and thought-provoking series. As the revelations that season 2 promises are eagerly awaited, the rich and mysterious world of Severance continues to be pondered, discussed, and delved into, where every detail holds the potential for groundbreaking storytelling.
- Release Date:
- Christopher Walken, Tramell Tillman, Michael Chernus, Adam Scott, Britt Lower, Patricia Arquette, Jen Tullock, John Turturro, Dichen Lachman, Zach Cherry
- Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
- From director and executive producer Ben Stiller and creator Dan Erickson comes “Severance.” Mark Scout (Adam Scott) leads a team at Lumon Industries, whose employees have undergone a severance procedure, which surgically divides their memories between their work and personal lives. This daring experiment in “work-life balance” is called into question as Mark finds himself at the center of an unraveling mystery that will force him to confront the true nature of his work… and of himself.
- Story By:
- dan erickson
- Dan Erickson
- Streaming Service(s):
- Apple TV+
- Ben Stiller
- Dan Erickson, Mark Friedman
#Theories #Severances #Goat #Department